NASA's Hubble telescope finds a surprise neighbor galaxy hiding out

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Sure, that may sound like a long way away, but over intergalactic scales, that's like finding a tree in your backyard that you didn't realize you had.

European and American researchers made the astounding find while examining images of a globular cluster of stars known as NGC 6752. Using the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope, the astronomers began to notice that some stars along the outer fringes of the globular cluster were out of place, leading to the accidental discovery. It's too far away to study in any great detail with modern technology, but its accidental discovery is definitely one for the books. Because regular galaxies like the Milky Way are hundreds or even thousands of times larger, these dwarf galaxies are at the gravitational mercy of their larger brethren.

The team published their discovery January 31, in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society: Letters. For starters, it's small.

Aging space telescope Hubble has stumbled upon a previously unknown galaxy dubbed Bedin 1, a celestial destination within the Milky Way that NASA describes as akin to a 'living fossil.' The relatively minuscule, very dim Bedin 1 galaxy is 13-billion-years-old and spheroidal in shape with a width around 1/30th that of the Milky Way.

The Hubble Space Telescope has discovered a small and strangely isolated dwarf galaxy just 30 million light-years away from our own Milky Way.

While dwarf spheroidal galaxies are not uncommon, Bedin 1 has some notable features. They're also fairly common in our Local Group of galaxies - we know of 36 galaxies of this type and 22 of them are in orbit around our galaxy! The upper left one highlights the part containing the galaxy Bedin 1. After a careful analysis of their brightnesses and temperatures, the astronomers concluded that these stars did not belong to the cluster - which is part of the Milky Way - but rather they are millions of light-years more distant. The galaxy's isolation means it rarely interacted with other galaxies, making it the equivalent of an early universe "living fossil", the space agency explains.

Based on the properties of its stars, including their low-luminosity, astronomers were able to calculate that Bedin 1 is between 10 and 13 billion years old.

The Hubble Space Telescope, run by USA space agency NASA and the European Space Agency (ESA), has once again delivered an awesome view at the cosmos.

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